READING ALWAYS HAS been known as a must-see destination among minor-league parks. That's why it will become the first non-Triple A park to welcome its 10 millionth fan through its gates sometime this season.
Scott Hunsicker, recently promoted to general manager, said that while the many special events help lure patrons, "I feel like people who come here, that more than anything, there's like a baseline of history here and of putting the game first."
But even Reading has hit an attendance ceiling, hitting franchise highs in total fans (486,570 in 2002) and average crowd (7,138 in 2004). "We feel like we put the pieces in place to break the attendance record," he said, noting that packing the place throughout the summer isn't the problem. "But when it's this cold in April . . . if I can figure out a way to put 8,000 people in the ballpark tonight," he said yesterday, starting to laugh, "I probably wouldn't be working here."
The Phils in 2007 have bulked up to 28 Fireworks Nights, moved their 9 a.m. game a month later to June 25 and scheduled five bobblehead giveaways, including one that fans will choose.
Among a couple of the other local teams:
* Wilmington is promoting a competitive eating contest and a Diamond Dig, which will man 500 women with a spoon to locate and unearth a buried diamond ring in the infield. Details on all their promotions are at www.bluerocks.com.
* Among the activities planned at Trenton are its inaugural "Bark in the Park" Night (for well-behaved canines only) on July 13 that will include a cash scramble. More can be found at www.trentonthunder.com.
Reading also has tied a number of promotions this season into Ryan Howard, who Hunsicker called "our most popular alumni at this point." My favorite? Probably the Aug. 20 Ryan Howard snow globe, the slugger dressed in a Santa costume. Now that should be a keeper. *
- Paul Vigna
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